I had the opportunity to meet Sandy Carpenter, a graphic novelist at Comi-Con in New York, who also married one of America’s greatest directors, John Carpenter. After we had an exchange conversation, Sandy agreed to send my questions to John, who doesn’t like to appear on TV or Zoom interview, he prefers to respond through the email, and he answered. What’s amazing about interviewing an auteur like John Carpenter is that, no matter how much his answers are gruff or straight to the point, he doesn’t pretty thing up, always honest….so no point of taking it personally. So here’s how John Carpenter answers questions.
Synopsis : On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six year old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was sentenced and locked away for 15 years. But on October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, a 21-year-old Michael Myers steals a car and escapes Smith’s Grove. He returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, where he looks for his next victims.
An Exclusive Interview with Director John Carpenter
Q : You’ve scored the entire Halloween series, and have done an arrangement of the Halloween theme. This score is haunting, how did it come about?
John Carpenter : Necessity.
Q : I’m aware that film was low budget, but how did you make the music instead of using other musicians. Can you detail your process of making the music, what kind of trial and error did you go through to make the theme song.
John Carpenter : There was no trial and error involved in making the music for “HALLOWEEN.” I knew I was going to use this theme I had developed over the years. But it was based on my father who taught me 5/4 time(musical expression referring to the beat of the song or piece).
Q : After you made the original film, you said you never wanted to make a sequel, because you said there was nothing left to say, yet the series went on. In 2018, a direct sequel to the original came out. How did Jason Blum and David Gordon Green pitch you about making a sequel to the original? The Halloween series captured the relationship between the Myers family — who appeared in the first film and the existence of Laurie — who has a particularly strong connection to them. It is described in the latest work. How much did you give your idea for the storyline to Halloween( 2018) and “Halloween Kills (2021) in order to maintain a proper sequel.
John Carpenter : First of all, I wasn’t making the sequel. I’ve never directed a sequel to “HALLOWEEN.” David and Danny McBride came up with the stories. I scored the movies with my son Cody and godson Daniel.
Q : I was totally aware that you didn’t make the sequel, but I wanted to know what kind of advice or blessing that you gave to David, Danny and eventually Jason Blum for them to green light the making of the film; what was your reaction to both films?
John Carpenter : I participated in the development of both, “HALLOWEEN” and “HALLOWEEN KILLS”, but, no blessing involved.
Q : Jamie Lee Curtis was a teenager when you cast her in the first film, what were the significant qualities that stood out for you to cast her as the lead?
John Carpenter : Jamie was a talented actress. She was beautiful and charismatic.
Q : Yes, she’s all that above, but I personally think there’s more to it, what kind of approach that she did in the original film which you found it different from other actress?
John Carpenter : Jamie Lee read for me. She was perfect for the part. I thought she had an inner strength, a will to survive, which I used it in the movie.
Q : What was your inspiration in creating the bogeyman Michael Myers? Are there any films that inspired you to create this iconic character? Even though he was attacked by people, he never uttered any words — what was the reason that you have kept it this way? Talk about the immortal element — even though he is shot dozens of times, he doesn’t die. The audience left with never ending fear.
John Carpenter : Michael Myers was a force of evil. He was less a human being than an element. It was this lack of characterization that made him scary. I stand by my answer.
Q : What are the important ingredients for a great horror film?
John Carpenter : There are no rules.
Q : Is it because you find deeper appreciation of horror that have been reinvented by other young directors? What other horror directors have surprised you?
John Carpenter : Horror is the oldest of genre. It was there at the beginning of cinema. Each new generation reinvents horror for its own. We are all afraid. That’s why horror is such a universal genre.
Q : Next year, they will release “Halloween Ends”, how will you be involved with it — as executive producer and composer as in the previous films as it said on IMDB. Do you have something to say about the final touch?
John Carpenter : I will be executive producer and composer on “HALLOWEEN ENDS.” I give my opinion, and watch basketball on TV.
Q : The title hints that this will be at least a conclusion to the Jamie Lee Curtis vs Michael Myers scenario. What kind of memories do you want to leave behind in this film?
John Carpenter : I want the audience to have a great time when they watch “HALLOWEEN ENDS.”
Q : Why did you put your name above the title in the original film, was it your conscious choice, in a way, of taking a possession of the film?
John Carpenter : A conscious choice. I’m taking possession of my movies.
Q : How effective or important as a filmmaker was it to continue to make your own films; do you have any advice to give to young directors about owning their content?
John Carpenter : Final cut is essential for directors. I urge every young director to fight for their vision.
Q : Why do you think this film has had such a huge fan base and has resonated with the audiences for such a long time?
John Carpenter : Because it’s scary.
Q : I think there’s a lot of scary movies out there just as scary as Halloween. But most of are gone or people have forgotten about them. I think there’s more to Halloween than it just being scary, such as the haunting theme song that runs through the series. Each year we have Halloween which reminded us of the original film which inspired some young filmmakers to follow your footsteps.
John Carpenter : There exists an army of young directors dying to tell new stories and strut their stuff. Each director has his own path into the movie business. It’s a tough gig but a road well worth traveling.
Here’s the trailer of the film.